American Literature

American Literature Live 2023-2024

In this live class, read and discuss great books in Zoom meetings as you trace the development of American literature. Learn how to write and talk about literature, research outside support, and present your findings in writing assignments. Pair with Dave Raymond’s American History to add history credit, or take the course as an introduction to literary analysis.

Enrollment Limited


American Literature Live will focus on building a comprehensive understanding of basic literary elements such as irony, duality, juxtaposition, and, more importantly, a love of literature.

The class will meet weekly over Zoom on Tuesdays, from 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM Central Standard Time, according to the schedule below. The format will be discussion-based with short lectures focused on the historical context of a particular book or short story.

Students will read a variety of literary forms and learn how to write a basic thesis paper, research appropriate outside sources, and find their own voice. The papers should reflect the student’s personal opinion as well as his ability to grasp literary concepts. The course can be used alongside Dave Raymond’s American History course but is also structured to stand alone.

List of Readings

Bold items need to be purchased separately. Any unabridged editions will do. Suggested purchase links are provided.

  1. “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,” Mark Twain
  2. The Aztec Hunters, Francis William Rolt-Wheeler (selections TBD)
  3. Explorer Stories (selections TBD)
  4. The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Elizabeth George Speare [Amazon, BetterWorldBooks, ThriftBooks]
  5. Poems by Emily Dickinson
  6. “Give Me Liberty,” Patrick Henry
  7. Johnny Tremain, Esther Forbes [Amazon, BetterWorldBooks, ThriftBooks]
  8. The Declaration of Independence & The United States Constitution
  9. “The Cask of Amontillado,” “The Purloined Letter,” Edgar Allan Poe
  10. “Rip van Winkle,” Washington Irving
  11. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Mark Twain [Amazon, BetterWorldBooks, ThriftBooks]
  12. Little House on the Prairie, Laura Ingalls Wilder [Amazon, BetterWorldBooks, ThriftBooks]
  13. Battle-Pieces & Aspects of the War, Herman Melville
  14. Across Five Aprils, Irene Hunt [Amazon, BetterWorldBooks, Thriftbooks]
  15. The Wilderness Hunter, Theodore Roosevelt (selections)
  16. “After 20 Years,” O. Henry

Schedule of Class Meetings

All Tuesdays, all scheduled from 1 PM – 2 PM Central Standard Time.

  • Aug 29 — “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” – Mark Twain
  • Sep 5 — The Aztec-Hunters (selections)
  • Sep 12 — Explorer Stories
  • Sep 19 — The Witch of Blackbird Pond
  • Sep 26 — The Witch of Blackbird Pond (cont.)
  • Oct 3 — The Witch of Blackbird Pond (cont.)
  • Oct 10 — Emily Dickinson Poems
  • Oct 17 — Give Me Liberty Speech
  • Oct 24 — Give Me Liberty Speech (cont.)
  • Oct 31 — Johnny Tremain
  • Nov 7 — Johnny Tremain (cont.)
  • Nov 14 — Johnny Tremain (cont.)
  • Nov 21 — Thanksgiving Break
  • Nov 28 — Declaration / Constitution
  • Dec 5 — “The Cask of Amontillado” / “The Purloined Letter”
  • Dec 11 – Jan 7 — Christmas Break
  • Jan 9 — “Rip van Winkle”
  • Jan 16 — Tom Sawyer
  • Jan 23 — Tom Sawyer (cont.)
  • Jan 30 — Tom Sawyer (cont.)
  • Feb 6 — Writing Assignment
  • Feb 13 — Little House on the Prairie
  • Feb 20 — Little House on the Prairie (cont.)
  • Feb 27 — Little House on the Prairie (cont.)
  • Mar 5 — Spring Break
  • Mar 12 — Battle-Pieces & Aspects of the War
  • Mar 19 — Across Five Aprils
  • Mar 26 — Easter Break
  • Apr 2 — Across Five Aprils (cont.)
  • Apr 9 — Across Five Aprils (cont.)
  • Apr 16 — Across Five Aprils (cont.)
  • Apr 23 — The Wilderness Hunter (selections)
  • Apr 30 — “After 20 Years”

Mary Pierson Purifoy has completed a history degree and was homeschooled until college. An avid reader and writer, she hopes to teach students to love books, writing, and history as well as a solid understanding of these subjects. Film is another passion as is exploring history through film and literature.

Additional information


12-14 (grades 6-9)




1 MS

Credit Amount


29 (planned)


– Zoom meetings
– Moderated discussion group on


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